Home > Runs & Races

Bekele runs two seconds short of marathon world record in Berlin

Kenenisa Bekele nearly runs the world record in the wildest comeback in marathon history

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia ran two seconds outside of the marathon world record Sunday morning in Berlin, after one of the greatest running comebacks in marathoning history. He finished in 2:01:41, the world record is 2:01:39 set on the same course by Eliud Kipchoge one year ago.

RELATED: How to watch the 2019 Berlin Marathon

Bekele was nearly 30 seconds of first place through 30K, looking completely out of the race. But over the final 12K he slowly made up ground, eventually reaching Birhanu Legese who was in a comfortable lead. Legese was shocked and while he remained about 100m back from Bekele for several kilometres after being passed, by 38K he was hurting. Legese still ran the fourth-fastest marathon of all time finishing in 2:02:48.

Before 2018, only one person had ever run under 2:03.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bekele had been doubted coming into Berlin, despite being a two-time world record holder (5,000m and 10,000m) on the track and a 16-time world champion, the runner had had a difficult 2019. He hadn’t produced any significant results and had faultered (relative to what people suspected he was capable of) on multiple start lines. He withdrew from the 2019 Tokyo Marathon due to a stress fracture, but came back to the same course where he ran his previous personal best of 2:03 to obliterate it and nearly set a world record.

Bekele said post-race that his preparation wasn’t perfect due to his injury and he believes he can still do better. “I can still do this. I don’t give up.”

Screenshot of Bekele only 80m behind world record pace with 2K to go.

RELATED: Kenenisa Bekele to race Berlin Marathon

The women’s marathon is still underway with the top runners finishing shortly. Canada’s Krista DuChene is also through 35K in 2:05:21. Live results can be found here.